The Ultimate Guide to Nailing Your Wedding Photography: Part 1

Whenever we work with a new client, we hand over somewhat of a holy grail of insider wedding information and tips, with a guide that thoroughly outlines everything you should consider when you’re planning this special day. This includes everything from pricing and packages to the practicalities of the day (When will we arrive? What moments matter most? Who do you want to make sure you capture special moments with? How involved do you want us to be?) Being prepared also lets you have fun and personalize the experience. Knowing what curveballs might come up and how to plan for the best photos that suit your vibe lets you be present and not think of anything on the day except the important stuff. 

But if you’re just starting your wedding planning journey, you don’t have our magical guide yet and you might be feeling daunted by the scope of planning. That’s why we’ve put together this mini guide. Part one here explores planning for beautiful wedding photos, timing out your portraits, making your wedding personal and unique, and how to plan for surprises. 

How to look great in your wedding photos

Feeling confident in your wedding photos is about more than looking great or nailing the makeup (although these things are a delight as well!) The energy of your photographers, the way you feel in your outfit, the environment you’re in, and the way the timing of photos fits into your day all matter. These planning factors allow for a stress free, vibey experience with your wedding photos. 

Here are some considerations to think through before your wedding day:

Choose your timing wisely

For clients like Emery & Matt, it was important for photographs not to take over the day. They didn’t want posey photos or a long session that took them away from the fun of the day. We opted to capture candid moments and fit in a quick portrait session and a walk with the couple to capture natural, beautiful portraits. This wasn’t an hours-long affair that took away from time spent with family, and happened in a 15-20 minute session where they just got to enjoy being around each other. 

For other couples, a range of family portraits or a photo booth might be the way to go. Perhaps there’s a grandparent or a friend group that you want special emphasis on. Knowing your priorities on the day and where you want to spend your time lets us build a wedding photo schedule that gives your maximal time and energy to spend on what really matters to you!

Know the moments that matter

It’s our job not to miss a moment, but knowing the moments you care about helps us prioritize photos that capture the moment. Pets, kids, landscapes, religious factors, special family heirlooms, or handwritten notes might all make your list. There’s no “right way” to choose your moments, so these choices are totally personal. 

Here are some key wedding moments that most couples want covered. 

Which ones are important to you? How do you imagine them? What key values do you have around your wedding day? Words like community, joy, celebration, feasting, reflection, meditation, or connection might help shape your plan for the day. Let’s have a conversation about how you imagine your photos so we can build a game plan that treasures each moment that matters most to you.

Getting ready and the wedding pre-game

This involves your pre-wedding laughs, tears, champagne, makeup sessions, cigar smoking in a suit, reading a letter from your partner, and in some cases spiritual or traditional moments like a blessing or a prayer from family members.


Most couples like to photograph some version of this moment. It’s usually candid, heartfelt, and moving — so you want photos that get those little micro-moments where eyes light up or the most vulnerable expression is evident. This might be a couple seeing themselves in their wedding outfits for the first time; but it’s also a good moment to have fun with! Maybe you invite your besties to sit on the couch and watch you walk down the stairs, or perhaps it’s a moment with parents or caregivers to present them with a photo book or memories or a letter that expresses what they mean to you. If you have kids already, they might be a special part of this moment as well.


The traditional act of walking down the aisle is commonly shaken up these days. Perhaps you’ll still have your dad walk you down the aisle, but you might also choose to walk in with two parents, solo, with friends, or walk in with your partner already on your arm. It’s all about making bridal traditions personal to you, your identity, and your biological family or chosen family.


If you go right from getting ready to walking down the aisle, you’ll only have a split second to say hi and hug whoever is walking you in! We’re guessing this person is special to you, so make sure you schedule in a moment for some meaningful words or to chat for a few minutes. This will help you stay present in the moment and also lets you connect with this person before one of the most special moments of your life.

Family and friend portraits

Every family is different. Every couple is different. We have seen every formation of family photos imaginable. We’re great at shaking it up, getting people comfortable, making sure the smiles are real and not forced. So when you work with us as wedding photographers you can expect photos where people look comfy and natural.

That being said, time these photos wisely:

  • If everyone is ravenous and hors d'oeuvres are being served just off-center, you’ll likely get weird distracted hungry smiles. Make sure you keep photos efficient if you’re timing them in between events or before travel.
  • Families with young kids might have to schedule a nap or a quick trip back to the hotel in between ceremony and reception, so leave time for this.
  • If it’s a hot day and everyone’s a bit sweaty, the earlier the photos the better. If it’s cold out, you might want to plan the shoot where it’s not too windy and people can bundle up in between shots. 
  • Do you want a moment to address everyone? This might be one of the only times where both of your families are in one place, gathered together. Consider letters, gifts, or a toast to thank everyone for coming. 

Don’t worry, we will help you think through all these factors! But these are all pieces we consider when we’re plotting to make your family portraits look as natural and comfortable as possible.

How much time should I save for my wedding photos?

This totally depends on your unique plan, but here’s an overview of what you can expect for photo time during each stage. Yes, we’ll be shooting in-between candids (that’s what we’re especially magical at!) but this is roughly the time you’ll need to save specifically for photos:

  • Getting ready: These photos usually take place while things are going on, so you’ll likely have 1-2 hours set aside to pre, and we might shoot for 15-30 minutes outside of capturing candid moments as you get ready, get makeup done, and try on your dress or suit for the first time. If we’re putting more attention on portraits in this stage (think you holding up your wedding dress, having mimosas with the bridesmaids, etc), you might need more time.
  • First looks: 15 minutes or so is sufficient. This is all about capturing that natural moment of love, awe, and emotion. 
  • Family portrait session: We like these to be gorgeous, natural and painless! 30 minutes is usually more than enough to get every configuration needed and capture the key people feeling and looking great.
  • Bridal party portraits: 30 minutes for these shots is ideal as well. Usually it’s fun to make the most of a beautiful Victoria beach, sunset, or park for these. Depending on the size of your bridal party, these might range in how much time is needed.
  • Just you two: 30-45 minutes is generally necessary to get some beautiful portraits where you both look wonderful. You can decide what moments are great for us to steal you away. This time can also be segmented; so maybe we’ll grab you right after family photos to capture post-ceremony exuberance, and then again at sunset for a moment to enjoy a walk in the woods or sit somewhere to reflect.

What if it rains or it isn’t sunny? Can we still get gorgeous wedding photos?

Rain or shine, your photos will be lovely. If it’s likely to be raining, ask your bridal party to bring boots or coats to protect their lovely things, especially if we’re walking a bit to get to another location for portraits. We always bring along props like a big white sheet for people to sit on, or extra umbrellas for the wedding party. The possible impact of weather is covered in the pre-wedding guide we offer all of our clients as well. Don’t stress if the weather isn’t picture-perfect sunshine.

Did you know: Cloudy days can make for the best wedding photos! Direct sunlight can make people squint, and the beautiful even light of a cloudy day can make for flattering photos and a gorgeous sunset when the sun sneaks low at the end of the day. That’s why you choose photographers like us who understand natural light; no matter how it shifts, we’ll capture you at your best.

More wedding photo tips coming soon!

The next part of our blog will explore wedding photos at the reception and feature a guide for anyone who tends to feel awkward in photos. We’ve seen our share of nervous photo subjects, and we pride ourselves in making everyone feel comfortable and confident.

Ready to book your wedding, engagement photos, or family portraits in British Columbia? 

We’re ready to make your day. Click the link to connect with us and let’s capture all the beauty, imperfection, and joy of you and your most beloved humans.